Category Archives: running community

2016 In Review

As cheesy as it is, I enjoy the exercise of looking back over the calendar year. It is a natural time to reflect and reboot which is a valuable process for everyone in every aspect of their life. To start, I reviewed what my goals were for 2016. (Here’s 2015 in review, just for fun…)

  • Gain More Race Experience: Relatively successful numbers-wise and from a diversity perspective. I raced on the track, the trails and the roads and learned some important lessons along the way. My favorite races were the Rivah and the 10,000. My most disappointing race was the Rock’N’Roll Chicago Half Marathon.
  • Continue to Build Strength: Mixed success. I absolutely didn’t do four sessions a week although I did get back into the practice of doing some strength before bed every night (usually squats, core and pushups). I also went on a streak of doing Body Pump this fall which was an excellent improvement until my schedule got busy.
  • Address hip/lower back pain: Nope. I did yoga approximately 8 times this year and whined about my back for the remaining days.
  • Maintain my fitness base: Yes and no. I technically maintained a decent fitness base with a lot of obstacles but I didn’t get near 55 miles per week most weeks this year.

My mileage total for 2016 was 2,216 (42 miles a week). For comparison, 2015 was 2,654 (51 miles a week), 2014 was 2,282 (43 miles a week) and 2013 was 2,303 (44 miles a week).

The other big change for me in 2016 was the incredible opportunity to represent Skechers Performance. The beautiful thing about this partnership is that I get to run in awesome shoes (seriously, you should try them, landing at Skirack in 2017) but that I also get to connect with other Skechers athletes around the country who push (and pull) me. I can’t wait to see how this brand grows in 2017!

I would be remiss to not mention an incredible running moment that had nothing to do with my own running but was an absolutely epic moment. As I talk about all the time, coaching cross country is one of my proudest achievements and although results aren’t ever the only goal, watching my team race their legs off to come in second in Vermont was an unbelievable finish for my coaching career (for now).

Finally, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you for reading and engaging on this blog. I am always blown away that people care about this blog enough to read and comment and truly hope you know how much I appreciate your support and interest.

What was your 2016 in Review? Have you set goals for 2017 yet?

When Does A Run Count As A Real Run?

For starters, the title of this post is intended to be tongue in cheek. You can count whatever you want as a real run. It comes from a train of thought I had at 5 am the other morning as I was struggling to get from my hotel room to the hotel treadmill. As is my recent pattern, I woke up at 3 am and was wide awake. In Cleveland, I gave up on trying to fall back asleep and went and did my run earlier than planned. In Providence, however, I fell back asleep after about an hour which made getting up at 5 to run MISERABLE. I was in slow motion and by the time I was ready to run, my time to run had whittled down to about 20 minutes and I had a fleeting thought that I should just scrap the whole thing because “a 20 minute run doesn’t count.” I managed to get myself out the door and got 20 minutes in anyway.

As I was thinking about it later in the day, this is a train of thought that I need to reframe as I head into Residency. There will be days when 20 minutes is a luxury and I need to relish those days just as a much as I love a bonus hour. I experienced this during my recent travel bender; when I had a bonus hour in Salt Lake City I jumped at the opportunity to get an hour in even though I only needed 5 miles. Normally I’m a stickler for not doing more than my training plan calls for but in this case, gotta make hay while the sun shines as it were!

Am I the only one who thinks this way? Has anyone else ever scrapped a run because they didn’t have time for the full planned run?

Week in Review 12.5.16 to 12.11.16

Huge travel week for me! Burlington to Charleston to West Virginia to Minneapolis and only one missed flight and one delay.

Monday: 7 miles on the treadmill with 4 by 5 minutes at tempo pace.

Tuesday: 4.5 easy miles with Will.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles in Charleston with striders after.

Thursday: 8 miles on West Ashely Greenway with 1 minute on, 1 minute off.

Friday: 4.25 run on Deckers Creek Trail.

Saturday: 6 mile trail run at Coopers Rock (yes, there’s no apostrophe). Amazing and just what I needed.

Sunday: 7 mile progression run on the treadmill in Minneapolis courtesy of the snowstorm. Arms after.

Total Miles: 42

Bummed to miss my long run today; I was looking forward to exploring Minneapolis’ many bike paths but a snow storm had better ideas. I’ll get 90 less exciting minutes on the treadmlll in tomorrow morning before my interview. On Tuesday, I’m off to Utah and extremely psyched to explore the trails out there, although a bit anxious about the elevation.

I did finally pick a “focus” event for the spring; the New Bedford Half Marathon. Because of the way that event falls, this coming week will actually be an adaptation week before going back to gradually increasing mileage in three week chunks. It’s amazing the difference a focus event makes in terms of my willingness to get out and do workouts or runs. I’m also a bit amazed how much more eager I am to run everywhere but Burlington. I’m sure every city gets boring after a while but after almost 6 years in Burlington, I’m ready to get bored of a new place running wise!

Finally, don’t forget that I have a book giveaway going on for Matt Fitzgerald’s upcoming book The Endurance Diet. Although I’ve been in the negative a lot lately with travel, I’m loving the approach and looking forward to using it as my schedule normalizes again as well.

Sting or Bee Stung: Welcome to the Hive

honeystinger_nobuzz_color

I am undoubtedly one of the luckiest people on the planet as I get to run and chase my dreams while being supported by an amazing group of sponsors who go out of their way to cheer me on and set me up for success. That being said, I’m pretty picky about who I partner with both because I need to use the products authentically and because despite being just a blogger in a small corner of the world, people trust what I say!

When the opportunity to join forces with Honey Stinger arose, I jumped on it and hoped they would see me as a good investment. I first encountered Honey Stinger when training for the Vermont City Marathon a few years ago. Although I’ve improved markedly in this area, I used to get extremely nervous before races and eating any substantial meal was out of the question. I was able to successfully nibble on a Honey Stinger Waffle, however. At that time, there were no fancy flavors like now, just basic honey flavored waffles. Once I’d discovered that I could tolerate them, however, they were always in my bag in case of pre-race anxiety emergency. Now that I’m a little less nervous but my schedule is 100% more chaotic, there are waffles and chews tucked all over my life; in the glove box, in my white coat pocket, in my locker, in my ski bag etc. They are super portable and if they get crushed, they still taste good! I’m currently obsessed with the Gingersnap and Caramel flavors. If you can be patient, melting the caramel over your coffee or tea makes a delicious treat. I’ve also been experimenting with the Grapefruit Chews. I’m not sure how I’ll attach them to my body for racing (I may not be successful on this front), but they are a great pre-workout boost if I’m starting to get hungry before a run.

As I get back into more long runs, I’ll be trying out the gels as well and will report back. Another great feature is that Honey Stinger features quite a few gluten free waffles, which is a great option for athletes who have celiac disease. One of the hardest things about celiac is having a quick snack to grab before your workout (because so many carbs are gluten-containing), so it’s great that Honey Stinger has a full collection.

As always, full disclosure in this crazy world of blogging endorsements and sponsorships is my goal. While I am not paid by Honey Stinger to discuss their products, I do receive a discount and occasionally free items from them as part of my role as Hive Ambassador. My goal, regardless of my sponsor affiliations, is to always be honest and transparent and you can expect that in this setting as well!

Week in Review 10.31.16 to 11.6.16

Monday: 3 by mile at tempo pace on the track. 9 miles total.

Tuesday: 8 mile recovery run. High hamstring on the right side is super irritated.

Wednesday: 3 by 1K on the track at interval pace. 7 miles total.

Thursday: Horrendous weather day here. 4.5 miles on the treadmill for the first treadmill misery of the season! Full body lift afterward.

Friday: 5 miles easy with Joe and the team.

Saturday: STATE MEET!!! 3 miles. So so excited for these girls to finish 2nd. They worked their rear ends off all summer long and all fall and it’s great to see it come together for them.

Sunday: 10 mile long run through the Intervale. Feeling pretty clunky from coaching and sitting on a school bus.

Total Miles: 46.5

Almost felt like a real week of training! I planned to do my workouts at my current VDot as predicted by my recent 5Ks but when I settled in, I was a couple of numbers faster across the board which means that I’m underracing! The weather hasn’t cooperated but I also think I have some work to do in finding the hurtbox again.

I have another funky week this week so just hoping for some reasonable consistency and mileage in the 40s. I travel to Albany for an interview on Thursday and Friday then to Rhode Island for the New England Championships on Saturday. I don’t have a race planned for Sunday but will be looking this week to see if there are any options.

Race Report: Halloween Hustle 5K 2016

For better or worse, I’m getting good at racing in the pouring rain and high 30s! Saturday morning was gray with moderate drizzle…until I started my warm-up when I got totally soaked. Since this was a Halloween race, I tried to get in the spirit without ruining my stride and had the unfortunate idea to rock a cotton Superman shirt. Red bunhuggers topped off my look and yes onlookers, I was cold.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

I didn’t get back from Asheville until 11 pm and when my alarm went off at 7:30, I almost scrapped the idea but since I was registered and awake, I dragged my butt out of bed and got dressed. I was at the race site by 8:30 and the race went off at 9 am, leaving my with just enough time to jog a couple of miles and do a strider up the sidewalk. Right before the race, I asked Joe was his plans were and he said he was hoping for a 5:40 first mile. This comes into play shortly…

The start was a bit hilarious as the airhorn misfired and we took a step out, then came back to start again. We rolled out in the pouring rain and I was a few steps behind Joe and Adam and with Tim, Francis and Todd. We quickly separated from the rest of the group and headed out into the neighborhood loop. Since I thought Joe was running a 5:40 mile, I settled in behind him and felt super comfortable which probably should have been a sign that something was amiss. There were no mile markers, so I just went on time and assumed that I’d crossed mile 1 around 6 minute pace given where I was off Joe and Adam.

The first mile rolls uphill but each hill is followed by either a downhill or a flat for recovery, making it a great course to move on. Tim and I separated from Francis and Todd but worked together for the rest of the race, a needed boost in the pouring rain. Once we got to the top of the hills, we picked up the pace and started to hammer down the hills and float on the flats. I focused on keeping Adam in sight until we took a series of tight course turns and there weren’t any straight stretches to get back in contact. Around this time, I also stepped in a river running down the street and soaked myself up to my shins.

For the second two miles (again, no markers, so I was just guessing on time), I just focused on pressing the pace. When I got to 12 minutes, I picked it up again and worked on convincing myself that I had the fitness to do so. Unlike last week, I found it a lot easier to find that next gear and hold it. My only big mistake was that I didn’t know the course so I wasn’t sure when we were getting near the final turn. Tim did, however, and shot by me with 200 meters to go. I crossed the line at 19:22, very happy to no longer need to drag my cotton shirt along with me!

After the race, I was a tiny bit disappointed that my time wasn’t faster but then found out our splits from Tim. Mile 1 was 6:39, Mile 2 was 6:06 and Mile 3 was 5:49. Turns out, Joe had decided to run the first mile on heartrate and ran a 6:16 instead of a 5:40. We all gave him considerable grief about this! The upside is that I felt so good in the second two miles and was able to push hard. I do think I could have had a similar progression with a slightly faster first mile so that’s a lesson for me to be attuned to BOTH my perceived effort and what others are doing.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Overall, I was happy with a race well executed in crummy conditions and feel like I’m starting to remember how to race again. I also cannot recommend the course enough. It is a certified 5K course and has an awesome combination of hills, downhills and straightaways. I would LOVE to race it again when a) I’m in better shape and b) the weather is a little more favorable because I think it is definitely a PR course.

Where My Skechers Have Been (Aka Interview Season)

In keeping with the rest of medical education, interview season for residency is a bit of a savage process. You apply to a ton of programs (for an exorbitant fee), you get interviews at a few and you travel to them for a two day speed dating event where you essentially pick where you’re going to live and train for five years. Super low stress. I’m applying in General Surgery which is considered a “late” interview season and we are just starting to get underway. My first interview is Thursday and Friday in Asheville, where I did an audition rotation this past summer. I am beyond excited to return to Asheville (especially since I get a second fall just as the snow is starting to fly up here) and as I was thinking about how to reframe all my upcoming travel in a positive light, I came up with a silly hashtag to highlight all the travel opportunities ahead: #wheremyskechershavebeen.

Running is a central part of my life and wherever we end up next year, I need to be able to escape for a run when I do leave the hospital so I am bringing running clothes with me to every interview. My plan is to run-explore on the first day so that I can see what’s out there in each city. On the second day, interviews start early, so I’m likely going to be touring many hotel gyms for that component. During my interview season, I’m going to be taking ridiculous pictures of my running shoes as we travel the country and scoping out great places to run across the United States and will be sharing those on here. The impact of reframing an annoyance to a positive? I’m actually pretty excited for my first flight delay when I’m posting photos from an airport bathroom. My bet? The flight from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis in December…

Ready to go? First stop, Asheville. 

Race Report: Victory 5K

Also known as, find a starting point. 

To be blunt, running has just not been that fun lately. My schedule is totally unpredictable and I kept trying to find ways to fit a marathon training schedule around TAing, coaching and traveling for a bazillion interviews literally across the country. It just wasn’t working. I didn’t want to run, let alone do a workout and most days, I just wanted to pitch my running shoes across the room. I let go of the idea of a winter marathon a few weeks ago but then found myself in a new predicament: aimless running. With no goal race, what was the point of going out the door to run? After a couple of weeks with no goal, it became evident that I needed something to focus on and I decided to jump back in with a surprise 5K last weekend.

I went in with no goal; I just wanted to go through the motions and get a starting point. I also wanted to support Karen Newman, the beneficiary of the Victory 5K. Karen was one of my first athletic heroes when I started racing again. She would dominate local races with her Olympic singlet on and I remember just being in awe that I got to share the road with someone of her talent. She has recently been battling a return of her breast cancer and the race was a fundraiser to help defray some of her healthcare costs.

Saturday morning was a great day for ducks in Antarctica. It was a chilly 40 degrees and during our warm-up, it started POURING and gusting. We got warm enough while we were jogging around but when I stepped outside for the start, my singlet was instantly glued to me. In fact, I had a few moments during the race where my shorts were so soaked, I wasn’t sure I was wearing any.

The start went off and I just tried to remember how to race. The first mile is essentially downhill and I aimed for a pace that was a click above tempo. During this mile, the rain was dumping down and I mentally kicked myself for not wearing a hat as water was streaming down my face. I went through the first mile in 6:06 (18:57 pace) and although I knew it was above my fitness, hoped that I could still hang on for a respectable finish. The second mile is half slight uphill and half slight downhill on gravel; the turnaround is in the middle of this mile. Although the footing wasn’t too bad, the turnaround was ridiculously tight and I came to a complete stop as I tried to figure out how to turn without falling. On the first part of the return trip, the puddles had started to accumulate and it was getting slippery. I went through Mile 2 at approximately 12:30 (19:31 pace) and realized I needed to stay focused to not totally fall off. The last mile wasn’t as bad as the last mile usually is in a 5K, probably because I was just running on aerobic fitness and not actually redlining. I worked on reeling in the guy ahead of me and just tried to stay upright in the puddles. I rounded the corner for home and pushed it in in 19:28 (6:15 pace).

My initial reaction was to be frustrated (19:28 is slower than my half marathon pace when I’m in decent shape) but I followed that up by being happy that I got through my first race back and cared enough to be frustrated! The nice thing about the 5K is that I can try it again this coming weekend. The Halloween Hustle is all on pavement (I think), so I’m hoping to improve on my time and keep turning my wheels over. My ultimate goal from this training cycle is to break 18 minutes at the First Run 5K (provided we don’t have a massive snowstorm or Arctic blast).

Week in Review 9.26.16 to 10.2.16

How is it already October?!

Monday: Woke up almost embarrassingly sore from hiking. Bit of a combo run, with a before practice then a few 1200s at 7:00 pace with some of the team. 8.5 miles.

Tuesday: Also known as, World’s Most Athletic Day. Hiked Eagle Mountain with Will and the dogs in the morning then did an hour run then went to CRWrx class (30 minutes of core). 4 miles with the team in the afternoon.

Wednesday: Sore, explanation above. My legs were fine but all the tiny stabilizer muscles in my core were on fire! 3.5 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 10.5 mile run at a very good clip in perfect fall weather.

Friday: 5.5 mile run in the morning then Body Pump.

Saturday: 7 mile run at Thetford plus coaching sprints.

Sunday: Felt awful all day but Will convinced me to get out for 5.

Total Miles: 51

Total September Miles: 225

Found a much better balance this week of getting out and enjoying the outdoors, being present to coach and training myself. My training isn’t particularly focused right now but I’m working on building general fitness and more importantly, actual strength through Body Pump and core class.

Had a great meeting with Dave from Skechers on Wednesday where we got to talk goals for 2017 and I got to see the new lineup! I have a bazillion pictures of all the snazzy new gear (can’t share them yet) but I was really impressed to see the following improvements:

  1. Refinement of the soles to make them more streamlined and lighter. Bonus for being more durable (~500 miles of durability in wear testing)
  2. Uppers are now all FlyKnit for a better fit and more comfortable ride
  3. The Meb Razor. This shoe is going to be an instant hit and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Week in Review 9.5.16 to 9.11.16

Monday: 7 mile run with 3.5 at tempo-ish with the team then mini-legs.

Tuesday: 6 mile recovery run around the home course. The heat is really hanging around!

Wednesday am: 8.2 mile run on the Causeway.

Wednesday pm: 5 mile run with the team. Both runs SO hot and humid.

Thursday: 4.5 mile normal run and Body Pump!!

Friday: 13 mile long run with Erin.

Saturday: 5 mile easy run with Will in Maine on the Eastern Trail

Sunday: 8 mile regular run around Old Orchard Beach with striders at the end.

Total Miles: 56.7

Another decent week of training. One would think that after 6 years of coaching, I would know the best way to get my own workout or run in around the team, but it’s still a struggle. I occasionally trip myself up because I think “well if the team is running 7 and I only need 8, I can just add on.” If I’m organized and no one needs anything, it works well. If I’m less organized or an athlete needs something, I wind up short on miles.

I am SO excited that I got to Body Pump this week. I forgot how much I love that class and am going to keep working on going to as many as I can fit in a week. My next hurdle is convincing myself to 1) try a yoga class at Campus Rec and 2) try a totally out of my comfort zone class to mix things up.

It’s still incredibly hot for September in Vermont up here; our home race last Friday was 86 degrees and humid. It’s finally starting to cool off in the forecast so I’m looking forward to feeling better as that happens. Still looking for some fall races to test fitness and have some experiences but it seems like most races are falling on Saturdays which makes it hard with Invitationals.